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Diamond Ring from a Facebook Friend?

This is a story about how some Bhutanese were defrauded on Facebook. Similar fraud made news once during the email days, where people were declared winner of million dollar lottery and asked to pay few thousand dollars to claim their prizes. Some seemed to have silently dreamt of million dollars and blindly jumped into the traps. That news should have be enough to caution us against any similar promises we receive over the internet. But some sort to learn the lesson the hard way.

Facebook is now a world of its own. People make career out of being on Facebook and some are professional frauds. That's their full time job. They write to thousands of people across the world with perhaps thousands of accounts. The old trick comes in new bottle. I have received hundreds of messages from beautiful girls, of course they are using fake identities, claiming to like my profile and seek my friendship. But interesting they ask us to write to them in their email addresses and not Facebook, which is when you have to know they is something fishy. When you don't reply them for over a day, you will notice that the account is deactivated and message gone.

Few months ago, a lady friend who was having a difficult life as single mother joyfully shared about her new found friend from the US. She told my wife that the man was sending her an iPad and iPhone. They have also planned to meet in Bhutan later this year. We were so happy for her. Her man was a captain on some ship and has sent her his picture too. He was a bit older but she was happy about that. They were even calling each other on the phone.

One day she called my wife to ask if we could help her get her parcel form Bangkok because seemingly her parcel was stranded in Bangkok for some reason. She has the postal number for the parcel. We told her that it's just matter of time. Then one day she was looking for money and she disclosed to my wife that she had to send $1000 to claim her parcel. Her man was on the ship and he was helpless. That's when I knew it was a fraud. I told her through my wife, to tell him she can wait until he reaches a seaport to clear the parcel from Bangkok. He told her that if she waits the parcel could be lost. Then we played smart and told him that we will send our relative in Bangkok to collect the parcel. Next moment his Facebook account was deactivated and his number was switched off. We could rescue her. Though we shattered her dream.

Not even a month passed when when my wife heard another woman excitedly talking about some parcel arriving and stranded somewhere. She was someone we knew closely and my wife told her our friend's story, only to discover that she went through almost the same script. She later confided to my wife that she already sent Nu.40,000 and because there was a diamond ring in the parcel she was asked to send Nu.100,000 more. She was almost ready with the cash when my wife rescued her.

Another friend my wife rescued was an old friend in Paro who was receiving generous help from a man overseas in getting the US visa. We were in Paro to drop our son when she invited us over to her place. She had lots of business plans before but we found out that she has dropped all the idea because she was readying to fly to America. We told her not to send any money before receiving the visa if he really means his help, and if he is a fraud he will cut all contacts with you. That happened.

These are the stories of three ladies that I knew of, and I can guess that there could be lots of male victims looking at the number of messages I am receiving from frauds posing as girls. Just that man won't admit it easily.

There could be hundreds of such stories hidden under heavy debts and humiliation, if only they could come out and tell their stories the next hundred could be saved. Bhutan is increasingly chasing American dream and many people silently and blindly go to any extend. We must warn people around us, especially those that are not very familiar about social media. I have highlighted the key words that frauds have used with those three ladies, let innocent people around you take note of them. Let them know that there is nobody so kind out there who would send them anything just by being a Facebook friend- Not diamond ring at least. It's common sense.
 

Being the Change, Beyond Complaining

I spent my summer vacation well. I attending workshop by the day and met friends in the evenings. I made some new friends and caught up with old friends. I interviewed a several people and several people interviewed me. I met with some people with whom I have always wanted to meet. I am soon blogging about them.
Animated Introduction. Picture: BCMD
I know you don't like reading about workshops, neither do I but this workshop was different. This workshop was not about some far-fetched theories and endless handout that would go to dustbin on the way back home. It was neither one of those namesake workshops to finish certain budget. It was about awakening, about realizing our power to change things, small things around us. We spent five days inspiring ourselves and the next five days going out into the real world to make real changes.

The workshop was called Community Mapping, technically it was about locating issues and asserts in the community and getting it literally on the map. We were carrying Android phones loaded with unicef GIS mapping app. The app helps in pinning the pictures we take onto the map using Global Positioning System. But that's just the tool, the soul was how we go beyond clicking pictures and identifying problems, yes it was how we device solutions to the problems.
The unicef Map. Click on the picture to view the real map.
Problem in our country is that most of us don't know a problem is a problem, and the few who could see the problem think it's not their problem. During the workshop we were shown inspiring documentaries from around the world about problems and people- about individuals and community who led changes, who became part of solution, who went beyond just complaining about the problems.

The participants were students from high schools and colleges and I was among the few teachers. The best part of working with young people is that they don't have preconceived doubts and therefore they aren't shy about trying. Soon they make us believe that it's all so possible, and believing is success half achieved.

After five days of inspiration in the BCMD Media Lab we identified issues in Thimphu community to address as our real project. The problems we shortlisted were;

  1. Management of waste party goers leave behind at Buddha Point
  2. Getting City Bus to Changedaphug (Kala Bazar)
  3. Campaigning against taking packaged food as Tshog (Offering) to Lhakhangs
  4. Appointing a community caretaker at a labour camp 
  5. City Bus vegetable vendors on stalls.
(Read about the projects in detail by clicking on the picture of the Map)

Any average citizen would say these are none of our business, but the workshop taught us to more than that, we started believing that every little issues within our community, within our country or the  world is our business. If we can bring a positive change we must do it. So for the next five days we were on the field researching, interviewing, seeking support, connecting people...
My Team with Thimphu Thrompon

On the last day we presented our project outcomes at the Tarayana hall filled with distinguished people who were themselves change makers, policy makers or people who had stake in the development of the city and its community. They all seemed very impressed and the stakeholder promised to render their support.
One striking quote from the presentations, a students said, " We came all the way from the east to put dustbins at Buddha Point". 

Bottom line is, if a streetlight is kept on during the day, some people will not notice at all, some will see and feel nothing, some will know it's waste of energy, some will click a picture and post it on Facebook or Twitter, in this workshop we were inspired to take the next step- to call the authority and inform them directly about it. This is one small change anyone can bring in a community.

During our field trip we saw a big log blocking the drain along the City Bus Parking. The log could clog the drain and during the monsoon it could flood the whole parking. Normally I would have just taken a picture of that log and posted on the Facebook, but this time I gathered my team and tried to take the log out. But it was too big for team of three men. Hundreds of people around the parking area just watched us with that's-not-our-business look. An Indian guy came by and told us that he will call his friends and do it. I was so touched until he asked 'How much is the budget?' So we went to the city office and asked for some labour to help us. There was no labour that day but they asked the location. Next day we went there to find the log was removed. 
Before
After
The workshop was conducted by Bhutan Center for Media and Democracy. I encourage Media Clubs in schools to get in touch with them and book your place for next segment of Community Mapping workshop. It can surely change you into change maker. Special Thanks to Tshering Eudon and Tsho Tsho for being such a great facilitator. 
 

Ninzi Meets Tandin Bidha

Tandin Bidha, one of the most happening Bhutanese actor was in Bajothang last weekend and by mistake I leaked the news to my four year old Bhutanese movie lover. I thought she won't have a clue about who is who in the so many movies she had watched but my god she could describe many scenes from many Tandin Bidha movies. So I sent a request message to the actor's husband, who is my dear friend, and fixed a ladies date.
I was going to take my daughter to meet the actor in the evening because right after school she needs a nap without which she gets very difficult but the excited little girl won't sleep without getting her demand done. With so much of hard work I put her to sleep and she muttered her sleeping wish with her eyes already closed: "I ....want to meet Tandin Bidha"  I gently ok-ed her to sleep.
It was the shortest nap my daughter ever took, and without wasting anytime I followed her instruction. My friend owns a shop in the town, where we had spent hundreds of hours discussing ways to change the world until one day the beauty came by and changed his world and his location too. There in that shop my friend and Tandin Bidha were waiting. It took a while for my little on to open up, and soon she was on Tandin Bidha's lap answering so many questions.
The Ladies
Later I came to know that my friend had summoned his wife the moment I messaged him and by the time I reached there She had already waited a few hours, leaving their own newborn at home. I felt so sorry but greatly thankful for doing this for her little fan. She has been talking about it ever since and every time we pass by their shop she would crane her neck to check inside. She will always cherish that moment, thank you Tandin and Tshering.
 

What's Mongar Court's Message to Schools in Bhutan?

Mongar Court has sent Ministers to jail and therefore a principal is no big deal. The judgement on the Gyalposhing land scam case sent a strong message. I don't know if it was a fair judgement but even if it was not at least everybody took a good message home. But with the principal's case there are several messages coming out. Even if the judgement was the fairest possible, the impact on the society could be unprecedented. The expected message to be taken is that corporal punishment is intolerable in schools, but there are hundreds of principals out there who are affected by the news. They must be hurt, they must be questioning and must be realizing that this could happen to them for just doing their duty.

By duty I am not saying that lashing students is their duty, their duty is to run the school well. Running the school means dealing with hundreds of young children, some of whom doesn't have sense of direction. The easiest thing to do would be to let it be. Let students do what they like, don't play parents, don't play police, don't play counselor, don't play judge and jury, don't just give a damn. Just go to the class and teach the curriculum. If there is an accident call the ambulance, if there is a fight call the police, if someone does drugs send them to jail, if there is a relationship among students call their parents and let them get married. But then school is more than that, every school has the moral duty to give every child a meaningful life.

They deserve to learn through mistakes, they deserve to stand corrected. No school will go lashing every troublesome child, but sometimes some children really need serious dealing because otherwise they are going to shatter their own dreams. Dealing with such students is no principal's favorite event. Every morning several students have to be summoned to the principal's office with different cases ranging from quarreling, stealing, fighting, smoking, drinking, doping, gang fighting... some students have their files filled with 'last warnings'
Some students ask for suspension because they want to skip school and have fun, and some even don't mind being terminated. A good principal's job is to make sure that these children don't leave school. The tempting world outside the school seems to care a lot but when these children are on their own they will realize that nobody cares about them, sometimes no even their own parents. We in the school know so much about the real world out of school and there we don't want our children to go unprepared.

I'm against corporal punishment and I'm more against mental punishment. We have dealt with children who would ask for any punishment except calling their parents. They say they will be thrown out of the house and removed from the census. When students are caught in gang fight and drug cases they beg the school to punish them any way the school likes but not to send them to the police. But we consider ourselves very wise and try the western style, we are expected to deal with them in a civilized behavior- yes we are expected to send them to jail! But we don't, we punish them, we watch them, we see them become better with few lashes. If they were sent to jail they would have never seen this life they are now living.
Principal in Jail
Mongar principal could have easily called the parents of the junior students and ask them to file a report with the police and arrest the senior for bullying and harassment. This could have saved so much of school's time and could have easily spared himself from all the problem. But the school took the responsibility to deal with the case, advice the boy and asked him to apologize. The boy took it lightly and went on to bully the junior further. The principal wired the boy and perhaps the boy may learn to fear the school rules now but the parents took the principal to the court and they won the case. Clap, clap, clap, their boy has leaned a good lesson in life, that his parents will watch his back at all times and he could go on misbehaving.

Thousands of young students across the country have heard the news that even a principal could be jailed for beating students. They must be feeling excited about it. These experimental young minds are made little fearless. And thousands of teachers must be reconsidering their roles as teachers, as caring teachers. Not to mention the hundreds of principals. If hundreds of students begin to revolt against school and take the principals and teachers to court hence I won't be surprised, I would thank Mongar court. Whatever is legally right need not necessarily be morally right.

By this I am not saying beating up students in any way is right, not all teachers and principals are as caring and good, some have cases of sexual molestation and some could be naturally violent against students for no good reason, some might thrash young children like their enemies; in such cases justice should prevail.

But we cannot go all american overnight to sue every little whip in the school just because there is a law against it. Some parents have natural court-going tendency and teachers are easy prey. We need protection too, we need legal wing in the ministry to protect us. Our job is getting more sensitive by the day and the more seriously we engage in our duties, the more vulnerable we become. We love our students, we care for them. Even in a family with two children parents resort to beating sometimes, we are family of hundreds of children.
 

ECB still considers me as one of their own...

I was the Social Media Monitor during the last election and I can still feel the redness in my sleepless eyes but ok I am happy that I could contribute so much. I thought I was done after I was called to do a final presentation last spring, but looks like ECB still considers me as one of their own. I am very happy to be useful yet again. So, here I am with a survey that could help in understanding the relationship and factors that affect voter's choice and participation of women in election. Similar survey is underway physically in every Dzongkhag and here I am reaching out to people on social media.
Please spare me 5 mins of your time in filling out the following survey. If you have already done that via the Facebook link you need not do it. Thank you in advance. (Use the scroll bar on the righthand side of the form to access the whole form, Submit button is at the end of the form.)
 

My Ninzi's First Progress Report

My daughter will always cherish Kids R’ Kids Day Care center as her first school as much as Kezang and I acknowledge, where she was enrolled since last year. She spent the first year in play group, just playing the whole time. It was there that she learned to make friends. She knew every friend by their names. She held high regards for her teachers, following their every word religiously.
Ninzi in Action
Beginning this year she began real schooling, beginning with Alphabets. We literally know everything that’s going on in her classroom because she would relive whole her day at home in the evening, word by word. We have never expected her to be so excited about her studies that she will keep us sleepless with her questions day in day out. She would complain about her being behind most of her senior friends and strive to catch up with them. Even in her sleep she will be practicing spellings of certain new words she learned in school.
While I always remained amazed at the pace of her learning and amount of things she was picking up I thought everything was random until we received her file on the last day of the first term.
Progress Report
It was a huge file containing every little thing she has done in the school with a progress report attached in the front. Flipping through the pages I could visualize how my little daughter spent her time in the school, day after day, lines and dots, word by word and I was so touched by the way the school has put everything together. This gave me a greater reason to cherish my daughter first school.
What my girl was learning, the words she was practicing, the objects she was drawing, the endless questions she asked weren't just random things, they were part of a a highly organized and progressive learning. The progress report states that my little one can:
  1. Recognize 26 Alphabets  and their sounds
  2. Write simple words and speak them
  3. Speak out number 1-10 (Of course she can dial my number already)
  4. Match number with quantities
  5. Recognize national symbols 
  6. Recognize body parts
  7. Recognize vegetables and Fruits 
Her Drawings
And beyond what is reflected in there she can recognize shapes and colors flawlessly. She can reproduce simple drawings. She can speak out Days of the week... and this makes her greater than her father has ever been at her age. In fact, I had been trying to make sense of all these when I was in grade II. My girl is yet to go to formal primary school and I am already a thoroughly proud father. Thanks you Kids R' Kids and the teachers there.
Body Parts
Vegetables



 

Dreams Come True at M-Studio

M-Studio is a place where musical talent finds its home. I have witnessed the studio give purpose to lives of many young people, to whom music mean everything. I could hardly imagine what would have happened to so many dreams if M-Studio hadn't come along. Thank you Choeying Jatsho, for dreaming a dream that would drive so many dreams.
One day, few years ago I wrote to M-Studio asking them to do the nation a favour of recording country’s first audio book. I got a reply expressing their interest but they were in the midst of musical revolution and had so many things going on. Then it was some months ago I wrote to them about Sonam Chuki and our plan to record Kuenzang Choden’s masterpiece “Dawa-The Story of a Stray Dog in Bhutan”.
Sonam Chuki at M-Studio
Sonam Chuki is just another eleven year old who has but read a lot. There are many like her and many better than her in reading, but what makes her special is how she kept pushing me ever since the first time we talked about it. She must be the only class VII kid who has read “Dawa-The Story of a Stray Dog in Bhutan” countless times in preparation for recording. She made me believe that we could do it. And what made it more possible is the powerful energy we received from her parents. Her parents are with her every day at the studio and they didn't hesitate once in letting her do this. And thanks to them for all the books they have always gift their daughter.
We are so indebted to the living legend, the author of the book, Kuenzang Choden for not just permitting us to record her book but also offering to help us if we ever need her assistance. I am hoping to arrange Sonam Chuki to meet the author and launch the audio book.
I could never imagine how tedious it is to record hundred over pages with a little girl, but Choeying Jatsho has all it takes to make it easy. The first trial recording of chapter 1 took 25 minutes, and I was already feeling very sorry because there were 13 chapters, but to my amazement Choeying did the first chapter three times. He gave the little girl all the time to make her comfortable with the whole process. Two days on and he has done seven chapters. There are over a hundred of sentences repeated and I have seen him note down the time periods of every mistakes, which means he has to work endlessly on it after we are done with the recording.
Sitting there in his studio and watching this young man do his work so passionately inspired me beyond words. My respect and admiration for M-Studio has grown greater than ever. I still can’t believe Choeying is doing this for Chuki and me unconditionally. I am so guilty of making a young entrepreneur do so much amount of work for free. I can never thank the man enough.
One day when his work reaches to thousands of students across the country, some of whom will be visually impaired, then we shall know the true essence of Choeying’s service. 
Stars Born in M-Studio

 

There Are 100 Bars and No Bookstore in Bajothang

It's sad but the hard reality of doing business gave birth to about 100 bars offering 100 different ways to get drunk in Bajothang and not a single bookstore to offer a single book. Bajothang is not alone I am sure. Ironically we still expect our children to behave well and grow into good human beings. In the society where every other building has a bar and every other adult is drinking, what else can we expect from our children?
An African  proverb is a good reminder: "It takes a whole village to raise a child." And Bajothang is not a place that can raise a child, it can only spoil.


I have often wanted to start a bookstore here but all these years I was barely surviving. I haven't cleared my car loan after four long years. I couldn't hurt my own kitchen for a neighborhood dream because running a bookstore is not a smart business. To dare that dream was to become a guilty family man.

Having been a helpless eyewitness to too many social problem in the school and beyond, and having been a sad observer of worsening academic standards in our students it has increasingly dawn on me that the only total solution to all these problem could be in the magic of reading. Reading does magic to language and opens the floodgate of wisdom. It discovers the goodness of human soul and transform the total outlook on life. I have known many good readers to believe in it. I have known some brilliant kids who are not only academically admirable but also such nice souls to be around with. Their secret to excellence is their love for reading. It's so possible and I don't know why we are not so passionate about making reading a social pride. Everybody wants their child to be extraordinary, it's possible, make them read. 

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay believes in this and decided to make reading a national priority. If his idea of Reading Year (2015) is received warmly by the stakeholders Bhutan will never be the same again in few year. We will have the best generation of Bhutanese ever. I wish his excellency could take one more step and give Tax Holiday to all the bookstores because doing that business is an endless sacrifice.

Personally it as been a very book year for me. I have received numerous book gifts from various writers. It's a sign that I must understand. It's a sign to dream again, to champion the spirit of reading. One family friend personally came all the way to my place to gift me two cartoons of their finest collection. What they said then will always go with me: It's almost sin to let books collect dust on the shelf after they are read. The books they gave me will go a long way.

I have always been a moving bookstore in Bajothang. It began in 2009 when I helped a friend sell Bhutan Now Magazine. Then I sold three issues of Yeewong Magazine and later I established lifelong relationship with Students' Digest Magazine, from their third issue till now. Soon I was selling Bhutanese Novels like Dear Seday, Then I Saw Her Face, The Night Hunters. Let me blog my trumpet by saying that I have sold more copies of those books than any bookstore in Thimphu. Selling 300 copies of single issue of a magazine in few days is a serious matter in Bhutan.

I wish to celebrate Reading Year by putting together all my gut into opening the first bookstore in Bajothang. If there are 100 ways to get drunk, let me give them one way to remain sober. It will be a huge sacrifice and I don't know how I will do it. As I type this article my friend Dawa Knight and I have already visualized a vague but brave plan to get it started-something like Book Cafe. I will need long tax holiday, book donations from individuals and established businesses, and Dawa's living room,because he has decided to remain single for some more years, to being with.
Something like this
 

Books on Democracy in Bhutan

Million things have happened in the first five years of democracy in our country. We were all eyewitness to those events that defined the birth and infancy of democracy in Bhutan. There were events that excited us, headlines that shocked the nation, political dramas that angered sections of society, decisions that changed our lives, and moments that changed Bhutan.

Those decisions, those promises, the headlines, the emotions, the drama and everything that happened in those five years are but surprisingly history now, to be forgotten with each passing day. No matter how strongly we felt about somethings or how somethings impacted our lives we have moved on. But if democracy has to flourish we must not forget what happened in the first five years, it was the priceless lesson we cannot afford to lose.

Gyambo Sithey, the same author who documented the 2008 election in his book "Drukyul Decides-In the minds of Bhutan's first voters", has done us yet another great favour of recording remarkable events from the first five years of democracy in Bhutan in his second book "Democracy in Bhutan-The First Five Years 2008-13". The book with its excellent print quality and design is a complete history of the founding years with nostalgic collection of pictures.

The Democracy in Bhutan
On one hand I wonder what was there to make up a staggering eleven chapters but by the time I turn the last of 200 pages I couldn't imagine how the author could possibly sum up five years and million things in eleven chapters. The eleven chapters will take you back in time and let you feel the impacts yet again, sometimes taking you into the depth of some matters that we had just let go with a smile.Undoubtedly the foremost writer on democracy in Bhutan, Gyambo Sithey has picked on stories that have mattered the most and that should be remembered for times to come.

What he will write next is not so hard to guess but looking at how many things have happened under the new government within the first year I wonder how many chapters he will have to write. But I bet he must have finished the first chapter already and the title may be: "100 Days Pledges".
Gyambo Sithey's First Book: Drukyul Decides
I have been lucky to receive both the books from the author himself, signed. And the author signed two more copies for my school. But I didn't want these two books to be hidden among thousand other books in the school library, I wanted them to be seen and read, to educate young voters in my school. Therefore I gifted the books to School Democracy Club, the ECB initiated group that is responsible for educating the school on democracy. To them the books are no less than encyclopedia.
Democracy Club posing with Gembo Sithey's Books. Thank you!


I would like to suggest every Democracy Club in the schools to own these two books as assert and perhaps ECB could make this possible.

 

To Rinchengang, Without Me

Last Weekend my club planned to tour Rinchengang to collect artifacts for our school museum. Our success and adventure in Matalungchu inspired us. But I had to fail them because our teachers were set to go on a gaming tour to Phobjikha. That was another big thing happening for the first time and I didn't want to be a disappointment. Teachers from four high schools in Wandgue were coming there for sports and this is going to happen four times in a year, each time in different school. This was big teachers' time.

However, for the sake of this teachers' time I wasn't going to put a halt to my bigger dream and not at all try to hold back the overflowing energy of my students for whom Saturday was all packed and ready. They came with lunchboxes and extra bottles of water, with umbrella in case it rained or shined too much.

The school bus was ready with the team on it and I was the missing piece. Surprise! I had brought in two ex students to replace me and take care of the team on the tour. Madav was our ex-school captain and has all the leadership quality it takes. He is around waiting for college reporting day. Yeshey Jimba is another very exemplary student who is waiting to resit for XII examination. He has his little sister in my club and her stories got him interested in our project, so that makes one solid team.

Before I reached Phobjikha I got a call from Madav about the success of the tour. Though half the village was out in the fields they managed to collect 32 amazing artifacts along with many offers of tea. And last Wednesday during the club hour they proudly presented their collection to me and I saluted them! And Special thank you to Madav and Yeshi Jimba. Come to visit the 'finished' museum during your college vacations.
The team with their 32 treasures
Talking about ex students, today fourteen of our class XII graduates visited us and gave us 'thank you' tea party. In few weeks all of them will be joining colleges and making us proud. I took them aside, click this picture and told them how impressed I was with what they did. The sweetness of the tea didn't matter, we felt so good that they came to visit us before they venture onto life's bigger journey. God is with you. All the best.
The 14 who came to say thank you
 

Guest on Namgay Zam's 'Let's Talk About It'

Good news to all Namgay Zam fans is that she is back but this time on Thimphu's popular radio- Radio Valley. She is doing a show- 'Let's Talk About It'. I was honoured to be her first guest. She thought my last blog needed more attention: Say No to Sex on Camera. Thank you Namgay.

I am sure many of you missed the show, so here it is.

 

Say No to Sex on Camera

Love making is one of the most intimate expressions of love. There is nothing shameful and bad about having sex but unlike in the rest of the animal kingdom sex is a very private affair in human world. When this very romantic ritual becomes public then it turns vulgar and therefore subjected to humiliation.
Bhutanese society is so small that just one leaked private video is enough to disturb half the population while the unaffected half share and gossip over it. Shocking number of homemade leaked videos have silently gone viral in our country and no one is giving a second thought before forwarding them to their friends. What more is a sadist?
Sadist is the man who made love on camera. Sadist is the man who leaked the private video. Sadist is the man who distributed the video. And sadist we all are in receiving those videos and watching them, trying to see if we could identify the people in the clips. How exciting it is when she is not our sister, how naughtily we talk about it when it's not our daughter, how casual we are because she is nothing to us. Will you do the same if she was a family? Can you imagine the humiliating pain she and her loved ones are going through?
Today the world is with you in having fun at their expense, tomorrow the same world will switch side and enjoy at your expense should you be the victim.
I see no difference between the women in videos and any other women when it comes to what they will do in bedroom, it's just the matter of having caught up with a wrong guy who took advantage of their trust. Whatever the intentions were, the act of recording the private business in itself was wrong. There can't be a justification, it was just ruthless abuse of blind trust. How could it leak out if it was never recorded?
I am a guilty sadist by circumstance; because I use a smart phone and I have huge contacts I have received every leaked videos in the town but on my part I have tried to stop right there by not forwarding them. I know I couldn't make any difference but as brother, as son and as father I have done my share of right so that I could face the women in my family without much guilt.

One woman I know has received all of the clips and surprisingly she has forwarded to all her women friends. Quite shocked, I asked why would she, as woman, do this instead of helping in containing it. She told me that her not-forwarding them can hardly make any difference, she rather chose to send them to her lady friends to warn them and to let them learn lesson. She is right, sometimes we can learn from mistaken we haven't done ourselves.

Remember:
  1. When you are sending your phone or computer for repair, make sure you don't have secrets saved in them. It's alleged that some videos were leaked that way.
  2. The files you have deleted from your memory devices can be retrieved using retrieval software, so don't think your secrets are gone when you have clicked on Delete button. 
  3. If you are staying in cheap local hotels make sure there aren't any peepholes as was in one case. 
  4. Last and the best, don't trust your partner if he takes out his camera in the bedroom. Say no to Sex on Camera and there is nothing to worry about. Sometimes it's not about trusting your partner but it's about how well we understand the technology. 
What keeps us going as Bhutanese is not our military might, it cannot be technology advancement and never was industrial estate, we are beautifully Bhutanese because of our social values that binds us as family but these videos we are sharing are degrading our Bhutaneseness...
 

Overwhelming Birthday

Birthday Celebration is one of human's best physiological inventions, you become a year older officially and it's a moment of sadness but see what happens. Then to make it even more wonderful Facebook came along. I was overwhelmed by the number of greetings I received. I would like to thank everybody who took time out write those words to me, even those very lazy ones who managed to type: "HBD".

I have never seen a Birthday cake with my name written on it ever, I am not saying it's necessary but as a child that would mean a world. Growing with rich cousins was heartbreaking especially on occasions like this when they have big parties and cake and no one remembers my birthday. Now I can afford a cake but the cake-loving excitement is gone with the age.    

There is this warm saying, "Friends are family we choose for ourselves" that redefined my life in last many years. Dechen called me in the morning and sang the whole Birthday song. She has very bad voice but it was magical. Dawa Knight and Paday walked in with  a surprise package each and it turned out that both came with cakes, they were pissed with each other but I am happy. Wa, two cakes for a man who haven't had one in a life time- quite an irony. It made me blush. Thank you endlessly.
The Two Unforgettable Cakes.




 

Dasho Benji Factor in Bajothang

"Gooooooooooooood morrrrrrrning Bajothang" began Dasho Benji like he always does on Radio Valley, and my students were surprised, they never expected anything to begin so exciting in that hall, where they were used to sitting for hours listening to ceremonious talks if not boring. The students who were leaning on to each other or were engaged in gossips suddenly straightened their spine and raised their brows.
The Legend-Benji in our humble hall
This was so far the best talk ever heard in my school hall, I feel very sorry for the remaining half of the students who couldn't be accommodated in the small space. The lucky half who attended the talk listened with all the keenness in the world. The subject of the talk was drug abuse and reading habit, which the students have heard many times so far and are fed up of, therefore I invited Dasho Benji. It takes Dasho Benji to add life to such topics and send it straight into the young hearts. That's called the Benji Factor. 

I have never seen my students respond so excitedly to a talk. They laughed when Dasho imitated Bob Marley, the cheered when Dasho acted like a doped guy, they whispered to each other when Dasho told his alcoholic history and the hall went silent when Dasho shared about Tashi Namgyal Dorji, his dear son who left him last year. I met Tashi twice in Thimphu and we talked of many beautiful thing in life, he was so full of charm. He could do magic with his camera and had great dreams but one day he took his beautiful life and left thousands of hearts broken. Dasho shared with my students that his son was influenced into drugs that took his life. He beg of my students not to give that heartbreak to their parents. I could feel the message seeping into the little souls.

Dasho then talked so profoundly about the magic of reading, putting it against drugs. He said every bit of drug makes our brain a little dead, little weak and little dull. On the contrary every book we read adds a new dimension to our brain making us wiser. Children roared their agreement to his confirmation questions. But the talk seemingly ended very soon when everybody was hungry for more of Benji Talk. He promised to visit us again and I am in charge of any future arrangements.
Kids requesting for autograph from the star before he left like a shooting star. We were having a quick tea in our rustic school canteen. (Seen on the right is my principal Shangkar Lal)
Dasho was on some environmental campaign when I hijacked him en route CNR Lobesa to Taktse in Trongsa. We had talked at length during out first meeting at Mountain Echoes in Thimphu where I made a casual invitation. He accepted generously expressing his strong urge to reach out to as many school children as possible. I already received some "How to Invite Dasho Benji?" questions from school teachers and I answered them easily because it's that easy: Send an Invitation on Facebook and Dasho will kindly respond depending on his schedule. Unbelievable but true when it comes to him- The Benji Factor begins right there.
With Dasho Benji @ Mountain Echoes 2014 (On Right: Jambay Dorji and Nawang Phuntsho, two published yet humble writers)

 

Unsettled Echoes from Mountain Echoes 2014

I was an Alice in Wonderland for three days at Mountain Echoes Literature Festival in Thimphu, lost among people from dreams and wandering in places I normally won't dare set my foot. I was invited as a speaker there, yes seriously, and even I was surprised. But some kind people told me that I did well. Thanks.
My Session "Living on the Edge" with Siok Sian Dorji, Dr. Francoise Pommaret, Marie Venø Thesbjerg
After months of anxious waiting my session at the festival was over like a sprint at Olympic. So that's not a big story at all, the real stories were what happened around the story. I returned with heavy heart, heart overloaded with stories and therefore heavy, but for days I have been waiting for these echoes to settle down and take turns to come out. I think all of it was too much for me to digest in these few days, I need to take longer reflective rest to put pieces together.
For now, leave all the excuses aside and watch my session on YouTube (Drag the player to 2:05:00 point) if you have missed it. I forgive you.
 

Good Bye ThimphuTech.com

The couple who authored Thimphutech.com-the blog that kept Bhutan informed about everything regarding telecommunication technology so far said good bye to Bhutan this morning. The couple, Boaz Shmueli and Galit Shmueli and their daughter Michal, whom I fondly call Bhutan Baby after her blog title, lived in Bhutan for many years working with Rigsum Institute where they worked on developing software solutions. Their last project and memorable one was the Rigsum Sherig Collection, which is a collection of 28 GB of Educational resources for students that is freely distributed. It was this project that brought us together and when they left they had launched RSC 3.0.
Our Families at their Farewell Party.
Readers of K2 Magazine every Saturday will miss their regular column Ask Boaz because there is no more asking Boaz from this Saturday, he said though he could write from his new place of work but he won't be able to deliver accurate answers to Bhutanese questions from overseas. Thank you Boaz for all the contribution you made to Bhutan. Hope your wonderful family will return to Bhutan someday and continue the journey. We will miss you guys.
 

Students Pleasing the Rain God

If you are enjoying today's cloudy weather after some many days of dry heat, thank the students of Motithang and Kelki who undertook the divine journey of Kanjur-lingkor around the Thimphu city to please the rain god. The absence of rain may not quite bother the urban population but the farmlands around the city were crying for rain.
Thimphu Thrompon Kinley Dorji and Thromday Education Officer Dorji Wangchuk were leading the boys under the scotching sun. I don't know if they can please the rain god and change the course of natural phenomenon but the event was a big out-of-classroom cultural lesson that the students will never forget. It's the lesson of faith in god, faith in ancestral practices and most of all the demonstration of brotherhood among us and the farmers who work in the fields and produce food for us.
I met the pilgrims above the Tashichodzong and the sight of them pleased me beyond words- I wish I were the rain god. I stopped my car and my family received blessings from the boys. It was an unexpected revision of spiritual lesson in an unexpected place, it's been quite sometime I went on that journey in my village. Salute to the Thrompon who has always held my highest regards and the TEO who took education beyond school, who didn't care if it was out of syllabus. 


Photographs are from Organizer Dorji Wangtchuk's Facebook post. 
 

Homeless Within Hours

I was on leave from school today, packing my bags for Mountains Echoes in Thimphu when an explosion drove me out of my house. It was fire right near our school gate, houses were burning like match boxes. I know every soul living there. I would always admire a peaceful man on wheelchair sitting on the balcony of his newly constructed home facing the morning sun when I walk to school every morning, and now his home was up in flames. When I reached closer I could see the metallic skeleton of his wheelchair glowing in fire.
I took out my phone to take a shot of the fire when the second explosion went off. By then it seemed like the fire was going to be very bad. Two tradition houses located very close to the burning cottages were beginning to smoke and catch sparks of flame. If the fire couldn't be contained the fate of many house that lie behind those houses will be ashes in hours. There was just a thin line of hope. If everybody present there threw a ball of mud each perhaps a difference could be made but despite my request many people behind me chose to enjoy the show and shoot movies.
Wooden Cottages burning like match boxes
By then our school boys have joined team. They were untrained and inexperienced yet they have braved to join the fight. They transported hundreds of buckets of water. On the other end huge group of boys were lined up and were salvaging belongs of eight families whose houses were almost catching fire. The rooms were filling up with smoke and ladder was very narrow but despite that every little item from those houses were transported to the paddy fields where we handed over to the owners. 
Teachers were anxiously running around to make sure that no student was endangering themselves. After few hours battalion of young soldiers marched at the scene, then we withdrew our students hoping the soldiers would do better job.
I found that one of my slippers was not on my foot. When I was looking for my lost slipper it broke my heart to see shoes and clothes scattered all over the ground with children's toys and family photographs- all those small things that holds years of memory, that that have changed many places and homes and traveled with family. We randomly collected all those pieces of memories and took them to the paddy fields where rescued things were piled up, to be segregated in better times. 
I couldn't really look straight at the family members who were made homeless within hours and screaming at heavens now. Though rescued they furniture were all over the place, some broken and some taken into wrong places. Their cloths and cookeries were scattered like seeds sown in the field. Some didn't know where their children were taken... they were shattered. I found a pair of rubber slippers in the mud, I wore them and walked home. 
By 2 pm fire fighter from Police and PHPA projects have brought the fire under control with the support of hundreds of office goers. The two houses that narrowly escaped were partially damaged by fire and water. Many families were homeless. Among them were eleven of our students.
School administration gave Nu.5000 each to our students as emergency relieve and further support was mobilized. Dzongkhag administration and school arranged relief shelter for the affected families in our empty classrooms until better shelter could be given.

**During the four hours I was at the scene I couldn't dare take out my phone to take a picture, in such times it seemed to me very disrespectful to resort to luxury of taking pictures. Because there are better thing you could do. The picture I posted was taken the moment I came out of my house. It reminds me of many pictures of Wangdue Dzong fire I took, but those were taken when all hope was lost and when you can do nothing at all.
 

Matalungchu Beyond My Expectation

Matalungchu is a village above my school, hidden behind the ridge on which Bajo Lhakhang stands. All I have seen in the last many years was that Lhakhang and beyond that is just an imaginary village I have never been to. This weekend School Museum Club members persuaded me to take them on the long promised village tour and we took the journey into the imaginary village.
The Team Musuem
I packed two bananas and a bottle of water for the journey which I assumed to be just as far as behind the Lhakhang but when we reached the top of the ridge I couldn't believe that a whole world lies beyond that tiny hill. My imagination had been betraying me for many years, there is no village behind the lhakhang. The village is across the endless paddies. The village is not small.
Waiting under the only tree in sight!
The landscape is the best geographical art I have seen in Bhutan, with occasional and unusual plateaus rising from the plains of paddies. I wished I could own one of them and build a small cottage on it. But I also noticed that there were no trees as far as the eyes could reach, the farmland has driven the treeline away on to the hills, otherwise it was a dreamland.
From one part of the Village to another...
My team was on the mission to collect rural everyday items for our school museum. I have instructed my children to let the villagers understand what we are after and why we are collecting those items, I also told them not to accept any antiques or expensive items (in case some people turned out to be very kind). So we structured our language this way,
"... we are starting a museum in our school which we intend to create like a typical rural home, for that we need everyday items that were used by our ancestors in the villages, if you have any of those old things that are no more used, please donate to our school..."
The first house which stood all by itself was a bit shocked because two boys rushed in and began asking for old items, but when the woman saw the whole team outside she gave away a plough, and two other bamboo items. We refined our approach and our language, I tested the team leaders on their approach and we even made it a team challenge. By the time we reach the cluster of gigantic houses we were joined by folks themselves, they recommended us places to go and some led us to their own places. We were treated with fresh peaches. A woman patiently demonstrated how traditional weighing scale is used.
Aum Chimi Dem showing my children how many Sangs make up a kg
The villagers agreed that much of what we are seeking have disappeared even from the villages and therefore they complimented our effort in trying to preserve it somewhere for the future to witness.

We lunched at newly renovated Matacungchu Lhakhang, where my children offered me lunch by collecting a spoon each from every tiffin- it turned out that the man who didn't bring packed lunch got the most to eat. An ex student who lives there brought me a cup of hot suja and zaw. With the new energy we headed further into the village. The houses were massive three storeyed structures with aristocratic ancient designs surrounded by unbelievably clean campus- it was nothing like the villages I have known so far.
Truly a Bhutanese Village
As I sat in the middle of the village minding the already collected items I couldn't hold my smile at the sight of my children coming with amazing artifacts from all directions. They were even more excited and encouraged that we extended our journey further across to another part of the village. The village seemed endless but my children won't agree to return after having come so far.
Novin and Leki Wishing if they could take one because we couldn't get one of these.
It was 5pm by the time we could convince ourselves to call it a day and then we realized that we have collected more than we could carry. We adjusted small items into biggers ones and made one load for each one of us, they gave a wooden waa for my shoulder. By my calculation we were at least few hours away from the school and if we had to walk all the way with the load we won't be home for dinner. So I started making calls with my almost dying phone, if someone didn't respond within a few minutes my cell battery would be dead and we would be on our own. But my friend Tandin Tshewang responded promptly and rescued us.
Celebration in my heart!
This first successful and enriching excursion gave birth to our plan of visiting Rinchengang, Wanjokha and Ninzigang over the months. And for the record this time we have collected 53 artifacts from 18 households.

And that is me posing with a jasum and jazi
 

Young Bhutanese Scientists

The 2014 Cluster II Science & Technology Exhibition in Bajothang is the grandest I have ever seen. Children from twelve higher secondary schools have broken many barriers though there is no denying that we are still caught in the box by international standards.

The chief guest, Madam Secretary took special interest in every exhibit and often remarked in amazement: "You should patent it". Each school presented three exhibits each and the result was calculated from the average of three

The winner was Ugyen Academy took home a cash prize of Nu.25,000. They presented a Multipurpose Machine- a washing machine and spinner, grinder, rice mill and water pump- run by paddle connected to series of gears. The carpentry and welding works are done so beautifully that it ought to win.
1. Multipurpose Machine, Ugyen Academy
The team also presented a concept of traffic signal that is a result of complex algorithm of circuits.
1. Traffic Light Concept, Ugyen Academy
And their third exhibit was a solar food dryer that they claim can also be used as cooker. They have also brought along a TV disc that can also heat water. But since only three exhibits were allowed they must have presented either of the two, anyway they were declared the winner! Congratulations.
1. TV Disc and Food Dryer, Ugyen Academy
The first runners up was explosive literally, it's my school Bajothang. They have made an anti fire ball, which when thrown in fire will explode and extinguish the fire. The demonstration impressed many people but the idea to me seemed imitated.
2. Anti Fire Ball, Bajothang HSS
Next was a Mop on the Wheel. This can be driven across the floor and the wheel will help turn the sponge that will clean the floor, the handle has a pair of switches to spray water and soap on the floor.

2. Mechanical Mop, Bajothang HSS
 Our third exhibit was a traditional grinder (rangtha) driven by gears connected to paddle.

2. Grinder, Bajothang HSS
Second runners up was Gelephu Higher Secondary School who were more into chemistry, they demonstrated the procedure to extract vinegar from bamboo.
3. Bamboo Vinegar Extractor
and also show us how to make bio-plastic from potato. The plastic can be fried into chips after use or cook as curry lol.
3. Bio Plastic
And they impressed us with their miniture robotic bull. The bull is run by series of motors and can be maneavured into any direction including reverse.  They took home Nu.15,000.
3. Robotic Bull, Gelephu HSS
I will share about the rest of the exhibits after I finish compiling the official report. Some of them are even better than the ones I have shown here, but they couldn't win because the result is based on the average of all three exhibits.

 
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